Is Davido More Successful Than King Sunny Ade?
About a decade ago, the idea that a day like this will come where I will draw a parallel between the legendary artist King Sunny Ade and iconic pop star Davido, is something I would have vehemently denied. To imagine that I raise the question is Davido more successful than King Sunny Ade, I would have tagged this as travesty but I now have facts and statistics that are driving this comparison. Davido’s local and international exploits arguably have trappings of that of King Sunny Ade. Even though the mechanism for music production was different within the two performers considering the eras, still, the target is the same – produce music that resonates with their generation, gain international traction and commendation, and finally, make a success of their career.
Words by Sesan Adeniji
As a son of the soil schooled about the Nigerian traditions, it’s hard to raise contrast between a father figure and a son, hence, pulling the two achievers, one from the silence generation and the other from the millennials, for the sole purpose of evaluating how far they have achieved might be seen as a taboo. But this is what journalists do – we make the right assertions and conclusions and also present the new facts. Looking at King Sunny Ade’s record deal with Island Records in 1983, and Davido’s signing with Sony Music in 2016, for the problems that ensue, both almost had the same outcome. Eventually, Davido achieved a better result.
International record deals – KSA and Davido
After the death of reggae star Bob Marley, Island Records sourced for another superstar in third world countries to sign. In 1983, they reached an agreement with King Sunny Ade but due to irreconcilable differences relating to the way they meddled with his music composition and the Europeanize sound they wanted him to churn out, the deal collapsed. 2016, the early Davido‘s project “Son Of Mercy” – EP, with the single “How Long” featuring the artist Tinashe, after signing with Sony Music did not resonate. It failed because Davido did not have creative control over them. But when he finally wrestled to gain control with singles like “If” and “Fall“, he recorded a victory. Davido succeeded with his first international record deal but King Sunny Ade did not.
International Awards Recognition
Concerning international music awards recognition, it’s the pride of most artists. For his album titled “Syncro System”, in 1983, King Sunny Ade received a Grammy Award nomination. In 2017, Davido was nominated for two categories at the MTV Europe Music Awards where he won the “Best African Act”, as well as the “Best Worldwide Act’. In 2014, he had a Soul Train Music Award nomination “Best International Performance” for “Aye” and also won the “Best African Act” at that year’s BET Awards. Although the Grammy Awards is like the Holy Grail for most musicians, still, MTV EMA is a coveted award. So in terms of winning international awards, Davido arguably won more than King Sunny Ade.
International Editorial mention
It’s a big deal to be published in any international newspaper or magazine. In 1996, in one of the editions of Mojo Magazine published in Great Britain, King Sunny Ade (KSA) was listed as the 68th best guitarist in the world. Life, a United State magazine also once listed him as one of the 95 most recognized personalities in the world. For Davido, he seems to have more international editorials, TV, and radio interviews accredited to him. Fader, a United State urban magazine ran a cover editorial on him in February 2016 describing him as one of the most resourceful artists that will shape the future of African pop music. They were right. In September 2018, Davido made an appearance on the highly sought after “The Breakfast Club” on Power 105.1FM. During his September 2019 American media runs, he also appeared on a radio show on Hot 97FM with rave reviews as one of the biggest artists from Africa.
International Music festival performances
As the crowned king of Juju music, KSA has performed in some of the most remarkable music festivals. In 1974, he represented Nigeria in Senegal, at the Senegal Expo 74. While in 1982, he recorded a sold-out commercial concert in London. He’s the first African band to perform at Hollywood Bowl in Califonia during the Reggae Splash in 1984. Since Davido’s international deal with Sony, he has graced some of the most talked-about music concerts and festivals in the world sharing the stage with the biggest artists in the continent. From his performance at the 2018 ‘Made In America Concert’, which had the likes of Meek Mill, Post Malone, and Nikki Minaj, to ‘One Music Festival’ which had the likes of Nas and Cardi B all billed to perform. Davido also singlehandedly sold-out a 20thousand capacity show at London’s 02 Arena. His epic entrance into the show is legendary.
Developing other Artists
KSA is a legendary performing musician who also had an administrative impact in the Nigerian music industry by owning a recording studio (Sigma Disc) located at Ikeja, Lagos state. He was also once the Chairman of the Musical Copyright Society Of Nigeria. But hardly can I identify any protégée of his in regards to artists he helped bring to the limelight. On the other hand, Davido’s slogan has always been “We rise by lifting others”. Davido’s indie label DMW has signed and helped other artists like Peruzzi, Mayorkun, Dremo, and Zlatan. From local concerts to international music festivals, Davido carried these artists under his wing and flew with them. Although every artist has their inputs into the industry, without doubts, Davido has helped developed more music stars than KSA.
With over 100 extra-ordinary timeless albums recorded by King Sunny Ade in the past five decades, still, Davido’s nine active years in the industry that started with the 2011 hit single “Dami Duro” seems to have recorded more successes parallel with that of the legendary King Sunny Ade. It’s scary to imagine what Davido will achieve in his 40ties. In the ilk of Lionel Messi’s comparison with Pelé, it’s hard to look past how extraordinary both musicians are. Outside the outstanding 50years plus musical experience of King Sunny Ade, considering what Davido has achieved in a short space of time (9years), in the spirit of his just-released album, it’s truly “A Good Time” to be alive. Davido is King.